Ryan PowellRyan Powell


Room number: D11d
Telephone (internal): 26182
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 6182
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 6182
Email: r.s.powell@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the Department of Urban Studies and Planning in September 2016 as Reader in Urban Studies and I am the Department’s Director of Research. Prior to this I worked at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. I joined CRESR as a Research Associate in 2002 and was appointed Reader in Urban Studies in spring 2016. I was awarded a BA in Economics and Public Policy from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2002 and I subsequently studied part-time for an MA in Human Geography (distinction) at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2006.

I have over 14 years of academic research experience within an interdisciplinary environment and during this time I have worked on studies for the ESRC, JRF, the Big Lottery Fund, DWP, CLG, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, regional bodies, and various local authorities and charitable organisations. My academic background and orientation is multidisciplinary and cuts across urban studies, sociology, geography, politics and criminology, but my research is very much focused on urban marginality.

I am a member of the Management Board of the international journal Housing Studies and an Associate Editor of the journal Regional Studies, Regional Science. I am also a member of the Executive Committee of the Housing Studies Association and the Association’s Treasurer. Less formally, I am a member of the Figurational Research Network: a loose international grouping of researchers influenced by, and drawing upon, the sociology of Norbert Elias.

I welcome enquiries from research students but am particularly interested in supervising research in the following broad areas: Gypsy-Traveller and Roma stigmatisation and marginalisation; housing governance and inequalities; youth unemployment and mental health; the governance of marginality.


The central theme of my research is seeking to combine empiricism and social theory in understanding the socio-dynamics of unequal power relations and their consequences in terms of urban marginalisation, both contemporary and historical. This includes access to housing and employment as well as wider questions of citizenship, urban governance and the stigmatisation of "outsider" groups.

This reflects a commitment to striving for an objective understanding of the development of contemporary society and its unequal outcomes, alongside an explicit engagement with public policy and the challenges it faces. By extension, this often entails the exposure of policy "myths" and critique of the inadequacy of current conceptualisations, but also seeks to offer alternatives in terms of policy development. A further distinguishing aspect of my research is sensitivity to a long-term perspective in terms of the way that the past can help us understand the present.

Current and recent research projects

  • 2015-2016: Overcoming Disconnection and Deprivation in City Regions, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • 2015-2016: Tackling Poverty through Housing and Planning, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • 2013-2016: Evaluation of the Talent Match Youth Unemployment Programme, Big Lottery Fund
  • 2014-2015: Affordable Housing Need in Scotland, Shelter Scotland

My Teaching is informed by my empirical research, social theory and is also policy-oriented. My primary teaching focus is on urban marginality, housing issues and the challenges facing cities in the contemporary period.

I teach on the following modules:

PhD Supervision

I am Primary Supervisor for the following research student:

  • Abdulla Difalla, Toward a relational understanding of informal areas in Saudi Arabia
  • MinKi Jeong, The relationship between urban digitisation and creativity in cities
  • Jeni Vine, Building cohesive neighbourhoods: conflict and rank awareness


Journal Articles

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